New Book by NUI Galway Professor Examines How Evolution Works

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A new book by an NUI Galway Professor of Zoology examines how evolution works by changing the course of embryonic and post-embryonic development. In Evolution: A Developmental Approach Professor Wallace Arthur asks questions like what separates humans from chimpanzees? Is it the genetics of our populations, or our different structures and behavioural capabilities? The book tackles key themes such as developmental repatterning, adaptation and coadaptation, the origins of evolutionary novelties, and evolutionary changes in the complexity of organisms. Together these themes explain how evolution works by changing the course of embryonic and post-embryonic development, providing a title influenced by the new approach of evolutionary developmental biology, 'evo-devo'. A key difference between Evolution: A Developmental Approach and other evolution textbooks is the integration of basic population-based evolutionary concepts with comparative developmental genetics. Organised on conceptual lines, with the themed chapters and case study examples, the book enables students to see the common principles underlying the evolution of different developmental pathways. Professor Arthur says, "There are many evolution texts 'out there', but there are none that cover the ground in the same way as this one. This book adopts a very specific approach to the evolution of animals and plants – an approach in which the central theme is how evolution works by altering the course of egg-to-adult development. This is a book about how evo-devo can be integrated with other approaches to evolutionary biology, giving us a more complete view of evolution than has ever been available before." Evolution: A Developmental Approach was launched yesterday at NUI Galway by NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne.
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